Keeping a journal is the most powerful self-care tool I use for both my personal and professional development.

For me, journaling serves three key purposes: stay connected to my Inner Wisdom capture my ideas for sharing my vision and my gifts with the world communicate the vision and to grow my business to serve the highest good

Most importantly, I have found my voice through journaling. My creative self-- my writing self-- is my true self.

On a personal level, journaling helps me to answer tough questions for myself, to clarify my core values, to relieve stress and release negativity. For business, I generate content for my blog, my newsletter, my sales messaging, all in my journal. I explore dialogue with potential clients and strategic partners, and I respond to things I see and read and practice engaging in communication with others.

Teaching "Creative Expressions", in the interest of bringing new content to my class each week, I have kept my eyes open for new tools, resources, and concepts to share, and I have been delighted by what I've found. I'm continually inspired.

If find, even as I practice day after day, that I need guidance, too, and occasionally, I get "stuck", not knowing what to write. Some days the words just flow to the page, and some days they don't.

That's where journal prompts and guided visualizations and topic lists come in to help.

Many women come to me saying "Where do I start?".

So here's one of the classic lists of "What Will I Write About?", taken from The Longman Writer's Journal by Mimi Markus (c)2001.

J - Journeys
Vacations, cruises, places you'd like to visit, biking, hiking
O - Opportunities
Questions: What if ...? Life events: birth, death, buying a car, going to college, Business growth
U - Universe
Spirit, Heaven, Stars, Astrology, UFO's
R - Relationships
People: Friends, Family, co-workers, Concepts: dating, commitment, honesty
N - News
What headlines caught your eye today? What topics are you passionate about? Rockstars, Politics, Weather, Media, Human Rights, Animals
A - Activities
Dining, Cooking, Art and Crafts, Relaxing, Writing, Sports
L - Lessons
Difficult decisions, I know better now..., I'll never forget..., I'm scared when...

Did you notice, the topics spell out the word JOURNAL?

Armed with all these topics, now you're asking, how do I actually start?

With paper and pencil/pen in hand, (or computer/iPad if you're so inclined) consider these writing strategies:

Ask yourself a question - Picking a topic above, ask yourself a question or browse your environment for a "clue".

What news headlines caught your eye this morning? Which is your most cherished relationship? What is your most prized possession? Where would you go on a journey?

Make a list - Life lessons, favorite things, music you love are all great topics.

Have a dialogue - Consider a conversation with your self as an older, wiser woman.

Create an Idea Map - Close your eyes and "see" the vision - Doodle it and write that description as you see it.

Cluster Your Thoughts - Consider the first concept that comes to mind and write that in the center of your page. Now add other ideas around it, one word at a time. Then expand on that idea, using more detailed words. This becomes your outline.

Pretend You're Being Interviewed - If a journalist came to your office, what questions would he/she ask?
Who? What? When? Where? How? Why?

Consider All Your Senses - Browse your environment. What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you see?

And if all else fails, Just Write! Whatever comes to mind, write it down. Set a timer, put the pencil/pen on the page, and keep it moving until the time is up. Don't over think it. No rules-- just write.

Ready to start?

Still stuck on "but I don't have time!"?
"Doesn't this take hours?", you ask.
And the answer is "No"!

Journaling is a personal practice. For me, some days I write for as little as 10 minutes, and yes, sometimes I write for an hour or more. If 10 minutes is all you can spare right now, then begin there.

And don't worry, if you can't find your way to journaling every day. Your goal is a regular practice, whatever that looks like for you. Ideally, I recommend at least three times per week if you find you are gaining comfort and confidence with the process.

It is my hope that you will find increased clarity, calm and conscious awareness in the pages of your journal. Your journey of self development will be supported through this exploration.

And the evolution and transformation experienced through your journal is how I define success.

So, what topic will you write about today? Share your favorites with me.I'd love to know, so I can pass that along, too.

Author's Bio: 

Nanette Saylor is the editor/founder of a website focused on personal development for creative women and the creator of The 12 Baby Steps Foundation Formula for Creating More Clarity, Serenity & Success, Using Journaling as a key component in her self-care practice, Nanette teaches high achieving women to create personalized tool-kits that support their growing success. To get a free sneak peak of her latest ebook "The Art of Journaling to Grow Your Business" register at